Blog Tour: In Deeper Waters // An Author Interview, Journal Spread and a Review!

Hey everyone! I am super excited to bring you a blog tour stop of In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens! Thank Turn The Page Tours for the lovely opportunity. On today’s agenda we have an author interview, a journal spread, and a review. So grab some popcorn, and let’s get into it!

Book Info

Title: In Deeper Waters

Author: F.T. Lukens

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

RELEASE DATE: April 20th, 2021

GENRE(S): YOUNG ADULT FICTION–Historical, Fantasy, Romance

BUY LINK: https://bookshop.org/a/11727/9781534480506

Synopsis

A young prince must rely on a mysterious stranger to save him when he is kidnapped during his coming-of-age tour in this swoony adventure that is The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue meets Pirates of the Caribbean.

Prince Tal has long awaited his coming-of-age tour. After spending most of his life cloistered behind palace walls as he learns to keep his forbidden magic secret, he can finally see his family’s kingdom for the first time. His first taste of adventure comes just two days into the journey, when their crew discovers a mysterious prisoner on a burning derelict vessel. Tasked with watching over the prisoner, Tal is surprised to feel an intense connection with the roguish Athlen. So when Athlen leaps overboard and disappears, Tal feels responsible and heartbroken, knowing Athlen could not have survived in the open ocean. That is, until Tal runs into Athlen days later on dry land, very much alive, and as charming—and secretive—as ever. But before they can pursue anything further, Tal is kidnapped by pirates and held ransom in a plot to reveal his rumored powers and instigate a war. Tal must escape if he hopes to save his family and the kingdom. And Athlen might just be his only hope…

Book Review

I received an advanced reader copy via Netgalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

The synopsis of In Deeper Waters sounded very promising, and I’m happy to report that the story really held up! It was easy to understand, and the world building was done incredibly well. There was no info dumping, nor was it written vaguely. The adventure was such a fun time too. I adored every minute of it!

The main characters where especially likeable. Tal was so nice and genuine. From the start I could tell I’d love him! Athlen was also very wholesome. At first, I wasn’t particularly fond of him. However, as the story progressed, I found myself absolutely adoring his character!

Moreover, the side characters where one of the best parts of the book! I love how each and every one of Tal’s siblings had their own distinct personalities. Kest was courageous and kind, much like Tal. On the other hand, Garret was spontaneous and outgoing. His sisters where also strong and resilient. Adding on to that, I really loved how In Deeper Waters contains such powerful women. From Tal’s bodyguard, to a fiery sea captain, women can do it all!

In addition, the dialogue was very heartwarming. I enjoyed reading Tal’s conversations with his siblings. They each had a special way of interacting, and it was just too cute! Athlen and Tal’s conversations where at times mysterious, and this only made me want to read more. However, the dialogue between all the characters where mostly joyous or emotional.

At first I couldn’t resonate much with the writing style. Third person writing is not my thing, but In Deeper Waters has changed my perspective on it. The writing was eccentric and fresh. It always had me at the edge of my seat! Furthermore, the talk about classism intrigued me quite a bit. It’s not something I see discussed much in historical fiction, so I’m glad it was mentioned.

The overall enjoyment level of In Deeper Waters is very high. It took a little while for me to be fully engrossed in the story, but once I got into it, the book was immensely enjoyable! All in all, this novel is an exceptionally refreshing read that’s perfect for spring! It’s the epic high fantasy you’ve been waiting for!

Age Rating: 15 and up

TW: Torture, violence, death

Final Rating: 9.5/10 or 4.75 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Journal Spread

Google very much distorted the quality of the image. 😢 Nevertheless, I still hope you like it.

Author Interview

1. I’m so happy to be holding this interview/blog tour stop with you today, it’s lovely to have you! Do you mind telling us a bit about yourself?

F.T. Lukens: Hi! I’m FT Lukens and I’m the author of In Deeper Waters. I am a lover of sci-fi and fantasy especially comedy and romance. I also love cryptozoology and superhero movies and television shows about magic.

Saniya: That’s very cool!

2. In Deeper Waters has an absolutely stunning cover! Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration and process of creating it?

F.T. Lukens: It’s such a great cover! I was so happy when I saw the initial sketches. The artist, Sam Schechter, did a wonderful job of bringing Tal and Athlen to life in both their poses and expressions. I think there was maybe one change from the original sketch to the finished product and it was a small detail. The illustrator had captured them so perfectly from the start. Also, the colors are beautiful – the sunset on the water. It really screams fantasy romance. It’s the first illustrated cover I’ve had for a book and I adore it.

Saniya: That’s lovely! It truly is beautiful.

3. Do you have a favorite place to write? Or a specific writing routine?

F.T. Lukens: I actually don’t have a favorite place to write. I have a desk that is surrounded by art and Funko Pops and posters that I use the most often that is my creative space. Unfortunately, now that I work my day job from home, I sit at that desk for eight hours a day already. So sometimes I migrate to the couch or dining room table. As for writing routine, I write best when others are writing with me. It may sound weird, but if I have a writing partner then I achieve much more than just by writing alone. I love writing sprints. I love writing during NaNo. I love participating in a writing discord. It motivates me to see other succeeding and helps me see a project through to the finish.

Saniya: It’s so cool that you love writing with others!

4. What is the most spontaneous thing you have ever done?

F.T. Lukens: I’m not a spontaneous person. I thrive with routine and don’t like surprises, so I had to really think about this question. The best answer I could come up with is that I adopted a puppy a couple of years ago from a shelter on a whim. He was part of a litter of nine. They were born in November and were given the name of Santa’s reindeer. (His name was Prancer, but we renamed him Zuko.) I fell in love with his picture online and I sent in an adoption request and was approved. They told me he was a lab via email. When I went to pick him up… Reader, he was not a lab. He is a redbone coonhound which is definitely not a lab. He howls. He chases things. On our walks, his nose is always on the ground. He’s strong and lean and ready to run at all times. I still love him, and he’s mellowed out as he’s grown older, but wow that was a rough first year. LOL.

Saniya: Awww that sounds adorable~! I love the name Zuko too!

5. Is there a character in your new novel In Deeper Waters that you resonate with the most?

F.T. Lukens: Probably Tal. He is the fourth of five siblings and at the beginning of the novel, he’s unsure of his place in his family and in the world. I remember being that way when I was a teenager. I was the fourth of four myself and I was just hitting that awkward teenage phase while my siblings were all grown up and established, married, having kids, off at college etc. It was a weird space to be in where you feel both left behind because the people you’ve been raised with have moved on and have started creating their own lives and families, but also like you’re not ready to follow them.  

6. Do you have a favorite scene in In Deeper Waters

F.T. Lukens: I do! But it’s at the very end of the book so I don’t want to spoil it. But it was the scene that I was writing toward when developing the first draft. It was the scene that I’d come up with really very early on in the planning and writing of the book and it was both a joy and a relief when I was finally able to write it.

Saniya: I love every scene in the book, but I think I know which one you’re talking about. If I’m right, it’s my favorite one too. 🙂

7. Lastly, what is the main message you would like your readers to take away from the novel?

F.T. Lukens: I really hope that readers will just enjoy the book. I hope they can curl up with it and lose themselves in a fairy tale for a few hours and be happy. One of the main messages is about remaining kind in a world that’s not been kind to you while still standing up for yourself and your family when necessary. So I hope readers will take away some strength, and peace, and joy.

Saniya: This is such a beautiful message, I love it!

About The Tour

Tour Schedule Link!

Giveaway Information

Up for grabs, we have ONE (1) physical copy and ONE (1) digital copy of In Deeper Waters by F.T. Lukens. This giveaway will end on April 26th at 11:59 PM CST. The physical copy will be available to win by US residents only and the digital copy will be available to win by INTL residents only. To enter, click the link below!

RAFFLECOPTER LINK: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1e4a114d36/?

About The Author

F.T. Lukens is the author of four young adult novels published through Interlude Press, and her book Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic was a 2017 Cybils Award finalist in YA Speculative Fiction, won the ForeWord INDIES Book of the Year Gold Award for YA Fiction, and the Bisexual Book Award for Speculative Fiction, and it was also recently named to ALA’s 2019 Rainbow List. F.T. lives in North Carolina with her husband, three kids, three dogs, and three cats. Visit her at FTLukens.com.

And that’s a wrap! I hope you all enjoyed this tour stop, because I had so much fun making it. Have a wonderful day, and stay safe! 💟

Eyes that Kiss in the Corners | A Review

Hey guys! Today I’ll be reviewing the lovely picture book; Eyes that Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Dung Ho. I hope you enjoy!

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners: Ho, Joanna: 9780062915627: Books - Amazon.ca

(Synopsis from goodreads)

A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers’. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother’s, and her little sister’s. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future. Drawing from the strength of these powerful women in her life, she recognizes her own beauty and discovers a path to self love and empowerment. 

The plot, if you will, was so empowering! I love how it’s simply about a young Asian girl talking about her eyes and heritage. I mean come on, how awesome is that!

Since this is a picture book, I don’t expect the characters to be extremely developed. However, I loved the main character’s relationship with their grandmother and mom. It was so cute and genuine. The girl’s relationship with who I assume is her younger sister, was also incredibly sweet. I loved how every character played a positive and impactful role in the young girl’s life.

In addition, the writing was phenomenal. It was poetic and left me feeling warm and fuzzy on the inside. The metaphors were very interesting, and I adore how the author enshrouds the readers into the story. My only complaint is that some lines where repeated a little too much. In my opinion, it made the lines lose there passion and impact a bit. Then again, repetition is very common in picture books so it didn’t bother me too much.

“My eyes crinkle into crescent moons
and sparkle like the stars.
Gold flecks dance and twirl
while stories whirl
in their oolong pools,
carrying tales of the past
and hope for the future.”

― Joanna Ho, Eyes That Kiss in the Corners

I’m not going to lie, the art style is what initially drew me to the book. It is without a doubt, absolutely gorgeous. The way the illustrator creates the scenes is just remarkable. They captivate the readers’ attention, and are very aesthetic!

The overall enjoyment level of Eyes That Kiss in the Corners is definitely high. It took me around ten minutes to read, and let me tell you that is was certainly ten minutes well spent! I recommend this stunning book to everyone!

Age Rating: 3 and up

TW: None

Final Rating: 9/10 or 4.5 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Have you read Eyes that Kiss in the Corners? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts. 😊 Have a fabulous day!

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Rogue Princess | A Review

Hey everyone! I hope you’re doing well. Today I’ll to be reviewing Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers. Before we get into it, I would like to point out how gorgeous this cover is! 😆 Anyways, I hope you enjoy!

Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers

(Synopsis from goodreads)

A princess fleeing an arranged marriage teams up with a snarky commoner to foil a rebel plot in B. R. Myers’ Rogue Princess, a gender-swapped sci-fi YA retelling of Cinderella. Princess Delia knows her duty: She must choose a prince to marry in order to secure an alliance and save her failing planet. Yet she secretly dreams of true love, and feels there must be a better way. Determined to chart her own course, she steals a spaceship to avoid the marriage, only to discover a handsome stowaway. All Aidan wanted was to “borrow” a few palace trinkets to help him get off the planet. Okay, so maybe escaping on a royal ship wasn’t the smartest plan, but he never expected to be kidnapped by a runaway princess! Sparks fly as this headstrong princess and clever thief battle wits, but everything changes when they inadvertently uncover a rebel conspiracy that could destroy their planet forever.

First, let’s talk about the plot. The original premise sounded so cool! A steampunk genderbent Cinderella retelling? Um yes!! The execution was done fairly well. However, I feel like the story was subject to bad writing. The story was all over the place, and there were too many mini plots. I didn’t know what direction the story was taking until page 220 or so. There was also a certain event that was used as a plot device even though it barely added anything to the story. Luckily, one thing that allowed me to raise my rating was the plot twist. I was definitely not expecting it.

Additionally, the main character Delia was underdeveloped. There was so much that happened in Delia’s life, yet she still stayed the same at the end of the book. She also didn’t have much of a personality aside from not wanting to marry a prince. Then again, it’s not like Prince Charming had much of a personality in the original Cinderella. Fortunately, Aidan was a very likeable character. He was passionate, fun, and his snarky remarks never failed to make me crack a little chuckle.

“If you love anything in this world, fight for it. Otherwise what’s the point of anything?”

―B.R. Myers, Rogue Princess

The side characters were definitely a hit or miss. The princes felt very comic book like, which made them seem extremely one dimensional. Prince Quinton really caught my attention though. He was mysterious and kind, and I really enjoyed reading about him. I only wish he was a little more developed though. Same goes for Prince Felix. Moreover, Delia’s sister Shania did not stop talking about men. It was literally all she would talk about. I’m not going to lie, it did annoy me quite a bit. Thankfully, the pirates were actually very cool. I loved the way the author worked them into the story too! Overall, the majority of the characters felt very one dimensional, which is unfortunate.

Furthermore, the dialogue was consistently done well. It was most certainly the highlight of the story. The dialogue really added to the enjoyment of the novel. From Delia and Shania’s interactions, to Aidan’s sassy remarks, the dialogue was undoubtedly very enjoyable.

“There is no greater power than the power of choice.”

―B.R. Myers, Rogue Princess

The writing style is where I had a lot of issues with. It was extremely dragged out at times, and felt overly repetitive. It was too blunt and the metaphors made no sense. I simply could not get into it. Due to the writing, so many moments that where meant to seem beautiful or symbolic did not make me feel any emotions. The story was also very confusing and I found myself struggling to imagine what was going on. There was also little to no world building. This led me to being heavily confused throughout the story. Luckily, despite being in third person, the story read like a first person story. I was very happy about that since I’m not a fan of third person writing.

The overall enjoyment level of Rogue Princess was pretty average. It was a good story that simply wasn’t impactful. As mentioned previously, the writing and underdeveloped characters made the story less enjoyable. Nevertheless, the original concept was very unique. Rogue Princess opened my eyes to a completely new genre of books that I will certainly explore more of!

Age Rating: 15 and up

TW: manipulation, death of a loved one, violence

Final Rating: 7/10 or 3.5 stars

⭐⭐⭐

Have you ever read steampunk or science fiction novels? Let me know in the comments down below. Have a fabulous day!

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Spring TBR 2021

Hey everyone, I hope you’re doing spectacularly. Before we get into it I just want to say…Happy Spring!!! As displayed in today’s post thumbnail, the change of seasons is really just an excuse for me to use Studio Ghibli clips. 😆 Anyways, I hope you enjoy!

(PS: Click on the covers of the books to add them to goodreads.)

First, let’s recap!

In my Winter TBR post, I said I’d read five novels. I’m happy to report that I read all of them! With that said, onto the actual TBR!

1. Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers

Rogue Princess by B.R. Myers

This is a gender-bent science fiction retelling of Cinderella, which sounds so unique! I’ve actually been meaning to read this one since November, so it’s about time I pick it up.

2. The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk

The Other Side of Perfect by Mariko Turk

I love middle grade novels, and this one just seems to be amazing! I can’t wait to delve into it!

3. Made In Korea by Sarah Suk

Made in Korea | Book by Sarah Suk | Official Publisher Page | Simon &  Schuster Canada

This YA novel sounds so exciting! I love how it’s about entrepreneurship too!

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4. Jelly by Clare Rees

Jelly, Book by Clare Rees (Hardcover) | www.chapters.indigo.ca

Survival stories have always keened my interest. However, for the most part, they seem to follow a similar format. But a group of teens trapped on a giant jellyfish? Now that’s different! And just look at this sick cover!

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5. We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This by Rachel Solomon

We Can't Keep Meeting Like This: Solomon, Rachel Lynn: 9781534440272: Books  - Amazon.ca

This is an exciting rom-com about two teens whose parents are involved in the wedding business. One’s parents are wedding planners, and the other’s are wedding caterers. The premise sounds super fun and I can’t wait to read it!

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6. Yesterday Is History by Kosoko Jackson

Yesterday Is History: Amazon.ca: Jackson, Kosoko: Books

This seems like a heartbreaking read that reminds me of History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera…Let’s shed some tears!

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7. Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie

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This is an eerie middle grade novel about a girl who’s being followed. As long as I don’t read it at night, I’m sure it won’t be too scary. 😂

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8. Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

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This gives me major Zuko from Avatar The Last Airbender vibes, and I am totally here for it. 😆

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9. Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Vicious: Schwab, V. E.: 9781250183507: Books - Amazon.ca

I’ve been putting this one off for a while, so I think it’s finally time I give it another go. This’ll also be my first V.E. Schwab book!

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10. Ao Haru Ride by Io Sakisaka

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I’m hoping to finish the remaining three volumes this spring. This series is such a fun ride about being in high school. (Really bad pun intended) I hope to pick up the author’s newest series too!

I hope you enjoyed reading my TBR list. What are some books on your spring TBR? I’d love to know! Have a fabulous day!

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Thanks A Lot, Universe | An ARC Review

Hey everyone! I hope you’re all doing spectacularly! Here is my review for Thanks A Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas. Thank you Netgalley and ABRAM Kids for providing me with an eARC of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Without further ado, here is the review!

Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas

(The synopsis provided is from goodreads.)

Brian has always been anxious, whether at home, or in class, or on the basketball court. His dad tries to get him to stand up for himself and his mom helps as much as she can, but after he and his brother are placed in foster care, Brian starts having panic attacks. And he doesn’t know if things will ever be “normal” again . . . Ezra’s always been popular. He’s friends with most of the kids on his basketball team—even Brian, who usually keeps to himself. But now, some of his friends have been acting differently, and Brian seems to be pulling away. Ezra wants to help, but he worries if he’s too nice to Brian, his friends will realize that he has a crush on him . . .
But when Brian and his brother run away, Ezra has no choice but to take the leap and reach out. Both boys have to decide if they’re willing to risk sharing parts of themselves they’d rather hide. But if they can be brave, they might just find the best in themselves—and each other.

Before I get into the review, I would just like to mention how absolutely stunning the cover is. Just look at this beauty!

First let’s talk about the plot. It seemed like an average middle school coming of age. You’ve got the bullies, the awkward and quiet kid, and that one parent who loves sports. With that said, I’m happy to report that the plot was executed in a very intriguing and unique fashion. It tackled issues that I haven’t encountered all that much in other middle grade novels. My only complaint is that I feel as though the synopsis made me assume that Brian and Ezra would help each other out more than they actually did. Fortunately though, it was something pretty easy to overlook.

The main characters, thirteen year old Brian and Ezra, where so lovable! They were such interesting characters! Brian is socially awkward and has a hard time talking to the ‘popular kids.’ When I was their age, I could totally relate! Ezra was such a cool character! He loves old music, told hilarious jokes, and had great fashion sense! The only thing I found to be a little infuriating was when Brian talked so much about having trouble speaking to people, but then a couple pages later he swears at a teacher. I felt as though he went from zero to a hundred a bit too quickly. His parents also talked about how he was such a responsible kid, even though some of his actions in the book were rather questionable. Then again, I can only imagine how hard it is to be in the foster care system. My heart goes out to all of the children in these systems. Overall, our main characters are put into such heartbreaking situations that I was happy to see represented in a middle grade novel.

The side characters where also very diverse and intriguing. Thanks A Lot, Universe gave adults diverse narratives, and it really worked well in the story. It was also interesting to see Ezra lose touch with his supposed best friend. Friendship was widely explored throughout the book, and I absolutely adored that aspect of it! Moreover, I liked how although there are a lot of side characters, each character plays a significant role in Brian’s life. Whether it be positive, negative, or neutral. My only complaint is that the police officer associated with Brian wasn’t talked about that much, and we never really got to know his true intentions.

Furthermore, the dialogue was a lovely mix of lighthearted and serious. Brian’s conversations with his dad, Katie, and the police officer, seemed rather mysterious. While the conversations he had with Gabe, Brittany, his teacher, and Ezra, seemed more lighthearted. In addition, it was interesting to see how Brian explained their family situation to his little brother. Overall, the dialogue in Thanks A Lot, Universe was superb!

Unfortunately, the writing style felt repetitive at times, which was a bit of a turn off. At certain times in the story, the pacing escalated and de-escalated very quickly. For example, sometimes Brian’s mindset would change from I-am-so-shy-and-responsible to edgy-bad-boy-has-been-unlocked in almost an instant. However, as mentioned in my A Song Below Water review, I love when books have no swearing in them. There’s just something so refreshing about books like this one. I also liked how there wasn’t necessarily any romance. The main characters aren’t even fourteen yet, so it makes sense for there not be any romance. One aspect of the book that I really enjoyed reading about was the setting! It takes place in (I believe) Nova Scotia, which is a maritime province in Canada. It was very fascinating to read about a place I’ve never been to before.

The overall enjoyment level of Thanks A Lot, Universe is very high. The plot was gripping, the characters are intriguing, and the story is fast paced. Must I say more?

Age Rating: 11 and up

TW: bullying, displacement of homes, running away, some violence

Final Rating: 8/10 or 4 stars

⭐⭐⭐⭐

What is your favorite coming of age novel? Let me know in the comments down below! Have a wonderful day!

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